Constitutional Instrument required to change Ghana's presidential election date

It has emerged that the Electoral Commission (EC) is yet to place before Parliament, a constitutional instrument that will allow Ghana to hold its presidential elections in November as against the current December 7.
The bill currently before Parliament seeks to amend Article 112(4) of the country’s constitution to change the date of parliamentary elections from December 7 to the first Monday of November in every election year.
According to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, the passage of that bill will pave the way for a constitutional instrument  to be laid before Parliament to enable the House fix November as the date for presidential elections in Ghana.
The conduct of the presidential elections and parliamentary elections are regulated by two different Articles of the 1992 Constitution. Bill presented by the EC to parliament affects only Article 112(4) of the Constitution.
“It is therefore of paramount importance to make a decision early enough, to allow  the Electoral Commission to introduce into Parliament, the Constitutional Instrument  required under Article 63(2),” the report of the Committee on the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2016 has advised.
The report, which was laid before Parliament Monday after a series of consultation with stakeholders, stated that the EC has already prepared two draft Constitutional Instruments on the date of holding presidential elections.
Per the report, the outcome of the bill seeking to change the date of parliamentary elections has consequence on that of the presidential elections, hence the EC is awaiting Parliament’s decision on that before it place before the House, the necessary Constitutional Instrument.
The need to change Ghana’s election date from December 7 to November has been prompted by the insufficient transition period within which one government hands over power to another after every election year.
Implementation can’t be deferred
According to the Committee, during its stakeholder forum, concerns were raised over the EC’s preparedness to hold this year’s elections in November should Parliament pass the bill. It also said some people suggested that its implementation be deferred to the 2020 elections.
However, per the report, the Attorney General explained that “since it is a constitutional amendment, its implementation could not be postponed.”
The report also quoted the Attorney General as having said that the constitutional amendment is not in breach of Article 2 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance as suggested, because the amendment is being done with the consent of majority of Ghanaians.
The Committee in its report to the House said it has critically examined all the issues raised during the consultations, the advice of the Council of State as well as the commitment and assurance from the Electoral Commission and “is of the view that the bill be passed.
“The Committee therefore recommends to the House to adopt its report and pass the bill subkect to the amendment” the report concluded.
By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana
Twitter @steviekgh

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